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1.2 Major features of GCC

This section describes some of the most important features of GCC.

First of all, GCC is a portable compiler--it runs on most platforms available today, and can produce output for many types of processors. In addition to the processors used in personal computers, it also supports microcontrollers, DSPs and 64-bit CPUs.

GCC is not only a native compiler--it can also cross-compile any program, producing executable files for a different system from the one used by GCC itself. This allows software to be compiled for embedded systems which are not capable of running a compiler. GCC is written in C with a strong focus on portability, and can compile itself, so it can be adapted to new systems easily.

GCC has multiple language frontends, for parsing different languages. Programs in each language can be compiled, or cross-compiled, for any architecture. For example, an ADA program can be compiled for a microcontroller, or a C program for a supercomputer.

GCC has a modular design, allowing support for new languages and architectures to be added. Adding a new language front-end to GCC enables the use of that language on any architecture, provided that the necessary run-time facilities (such as libraries) are available. Similarly, adding support for a new architecture makes it available to all languages.

Finally, and most importantly, GCC is free software, distributed under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).(1) This means you have the freedom to use and to modify GCC, as with all GNU software. If you need support for a new type of CPU, a new language, or a new feature you can add it yourself, or hire someone to enhance GCC for you. You can hire someone to fix a bug if it is important for your work.

Furthermore, you have the freedom to share any enhancements you make to GCC. As a result of this freedom you can also make use of enhancements to GCC developed by others. The many features offered by GCC today show how this freedom to cooperate works to benefit you, and everyone else who uses GCC.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire